Denver, Colorado – Where its a crime to be homeless

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Denver, Colorado

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So, in Denver in case you haven’t heard, the City outlawed “Urban Camping” which resulted in multiple sweeps to remove the homeless camps throughout the city.

Meaning, the police would swoop in and confiscate things like, tents, tarps, blankets, clothing, sleeping bags, etc from the homeless in an effort to force them to…stop being homeless of course.   

According to the Urban Dictionary, Urban Camping is defined as: “camping in an urban setting by sleeping on rooftops, under bushes, and in public parks.”

According to a Medical Dictionary Urban Camping is defined as (and I truly love this one): “A flippant term for homelessness.”

The National Health Care for The Homeless, defines homeless as: “an individual who lacks housing (without regard to whether the individual is a member of a family), including an individual whose primary residence during the night is a supervised public or private facility (e.g., shelters) that provides temporary living accommodations, and an individual who is a resident in transitional housing.”

“A homeless person is an individual without permanent housing who may live on the streets; stay in a shelter, mission, single room occupancy facilities, abandoned building or vehicle; or in any other unstable or non-permanent situation.”

So while the definition of Urban Camping is a play on words, the definition of homeless is not, it is the reality of the situation.

Being homeless and living on the streets is technically not the same thing as “urban camping,” yet cities across the nation have tried and failed to outlaw this thing called “Urban Camping” which is basically a passive-aggressive way to outlaw being homeless.

To get to that conclusion I just looked at the the definition of camping: “the activity spending a vacation living in a camp, tent, or camper.”

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The last time I checked, being homeless was not a vacation.

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On Saturday of last week Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced that police should not take blankets and other items from the homeless after video surfaced across the web showing Denver Police taking blankets and other items from the homeless camped out on Denver sidewalks during last weeks cold and snowy weather.

Out of the kindness of the Mayor’s heart, he suggested that police allow the homeless to keep blankets, sleeping bags, tents, tarps and the like during the cold, wet months.

Well, we cannot rob the poor because the wealthy don’t want to look at them, because the wealthy don’t like what they see.

If we don’t like human suffering, we need to find a way to end it, without causing and inflicting shame, harm and mental trauma.

Start by asking some of the homeless if they want to be homeless, find productive ways to help those that don’t want to be homeless and find ways to better assist those that want to continue to be homeless because quite a few do want to be homeless like it or not.

9News in Denver did a story a few weeks ago about a homeless man who wanted to continue to be homeless, he liked it even though he got arrested a lot.

We cannot make the choice for this man to change his wayward ways if it’s not what he wants to do, it’s his choice.

http://www.9news.com/news/local/investigations/denvers-most-arrested-and-cited-man/355106517

We cannot force anyone who wants to be homeless to stop being homeless or into shelters that are unclean, filthy and unsafe.

Encampment enforcement

Build better shelters, ones that replace all bedding every night and day so they are cleaner and bedbug free.

Arm those shelters with police or armed guards so that they are safe and so as to ensure the personal belongings of each homeless person is not stolen by another.

Better yet, build outdoor shelters so that the homeless can take their own personal belongings with them, equip them with portable outdoor heaters for colder months and supply armed officers to keep those that utilize the space safe.

Employ the city cleaning crews to go clean the outdoor shelters daily.

Work with local business owners and encourage them to stop selling alcohol to the homeless in the area.

The point is, we cannot force someone off of the streets, we cannot bus them away, so it’s time to start to better address the issues of the homeless in Denver without causing them undue harm.

If the residents and business owners really want something done about the homeless in the area, make them pay for better ways to assist the homeless.

Something that is not a passive-aggressive way of outlawing being homeless.

I use this one a lot “The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.”

And that perfectly sums up the City of Denver’s idea’s about addressing and then solving the city’s homeless problem.

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We cannot and should not punish the homeless for being homeless regardless of whether or not we try to dress it up by calling it “Urban Camping.”

Being homeless is not the same as as a vacation, living on the streets is not camping, urban or otherwise no matter how you try to dress it up.

It’s time that the City of Denver learn to address the homeless problem by addressing it as exactly what it is, instead of what it is not.

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

@thecrimeshop

FBI now using Dataminr to monitor social media

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More specifically, Twitter

Which is kind of odd when you think about the fact that Twitter seems to be going through a slow yet impending death.

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Dataminr is advertised as able to turn social media posts into actionable alerts. “Dataminr transforms the Twitter stream and other public datasets into actionable alerts, providing must-know information in real-time for clients in Finance, the Public Sector, News, Corporate Security and Crisis Management.”

Many, many people are against big brother having the ability to see what we are saying on social media. The ACLU in fact, has taken issue with that very issue with the Denver, Colorado Police Department, as well as other departments throughout the US.

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Twitter did revoke API access to Geofeedia earlier this year which is what the Denver Police Department was using.

Access was revoked because it violated a clause in Twitter’s Developer Agreement, which forbids using the provided data to “investigate, track or surveil Twitter’s users.”

Now before everyone goes wild here and starts protesting or suing the FBI, keep in mind that terrorists use Twitter pretty heavily, as well as other social media.

Not to mention that the Developer Agreement was always meant more for those seeking to buy and sell user information for marketing purposes and not specifically to prevent law enforcement from utilizing tools that would help with crime prevention.

On the other hand, users of social media, the ACLU and many other organizations fear that law enforcement will utilize these types of tools in an effort to profile specific races, which brings the idea of “stop and frisk,” to social media.

I usually tell people, when you are not paying for the ability use social media, whether it’s Twitter or Facebook, GAB, Instagram, Pinterest, etc, technically you are not protected under any privacy act therefore, you should have zero expectation of guaranteed privacy while posting. Period.

Generally I do suggest law enforcement utilize tools that allow for them to monitor social media so as to prevent crime and/or death.

Sure you can report posts to whichever social media site you are on but the reality is it’s not always monitored and by the time someone gets to it it could be too late.

Posting anything online where anyone could potentially see it is a lot like being on stage or in the middle of the street yelling out for the world to hear whatever it is that you have to say.

When someone chooses to be so open with comments, statements or idea’s, where anyone can hear or see them, it makes no realistic sense to try to stop law enforcement from seeing it.

The biggest question would be, is it fair or just to try to stop law enforcement from utilizing tools such as Dataminr and Geofeedia because we assume or fear that they will use them to to racially profile or is it that we just don’t want law enforcement to see what we post online?

Maybe a little of both?

Would it change the overall opinion if law enforcement could show that having such tools helped them prevent or solve just one major crime?

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

@thecrimeshop

Law Enforcement using facial recognition – with no oversight

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According to the ACLU and about 51 other advocacy groups.

So now everyone is crying wolf.

It has always fascinated me that people take so much issue with law enforcement using things like facial recognition tools, as well as tools that assist them search out keywords on social media and the like.

Tools that marketers have been using for years.

So yet on the other hand, we don’t seem to notice or care that virtually every online move one makes is being tracked and seen by someone, including our pictures.

Every time you swipe a credit card or bank card, you are being tracked, everything you purchase is being tracked, sites you visit, ad’s you may click on, types of clothing you look at, shoes, the list is virtually endless.

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Someone or rather several someones are seeing what you are paying for, searching for and needing all of the time.

Whether you are online or not too.  

That someone or those many someone’s seeing all of our stuff, well they are not law enforcement, some of those someone’s are able to get enough information about us that they can in turn sell it online to the highest bidder.

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Marketers and social media, stores, etc have no major calls for oversight, seem to be hacked more than law enforcement and yet they track our every move, see all of our online spending, what porn sites you visit, every picture that you have, even the one’s with your naughty bits showing that you sent via email or text or have saved in your cloud storage and yes all of the cat pictures and videos are seen too.

What your grocery list looks like is seen, what music you listen to is noted, in fact, Spotify pays attention to my website and suggests music based off of what pieces I have written in the past and what music I have added to my website, the majority of the music I share on my website is through Youtube, and not Spotify.

If you visit a bank’s ATM often enough and it’s not your bank, you will actually start getting junk mail from the bank whose ATM you keep drawing money out of, asking you to switch banks.

Anyone go to Target or other box stores? Stores that you do not have a store credit card for and suddenly a month later you start getting all of this junk mail addressed specifically to you with ad’s that are geared towards what you have purchased in the past month at those box stores?

Do you remember giving them your mailing address? No, I bet you don’t but that bank card that you used, the one you swiped to pay for your goods with, well that gave them your address.

We are more willing to let strangers who have no restriction or oversight see everything we do and are into but when it comes to Law Enforcement, well they are SOL…

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So here’s the deal, recently it was discovered that maybe roughly half of American adult images appear in the unregulated police databases (if one has a drivers license, passport or state issued ID, your image is already in a database).

So now everyone wants this DOJ investigation and blah, blah, blah…

“Face recognition technology has enormous civil liberties implications and its use must be closely examined to ensure that it is not violating Americans’ civil rights,” according to ACLU’s letter, that went on to say,  “The safeguards to ensure this technology is being used fairly and responsibly appear to be virtually nonexistent.”

But I suppose that because it is the law enforcement that has it, they are totally abusing it and singling out individuals of color and only those individuals….they couldn’t possibly be using it to find and locate known criminals, known associates of known criminals or individuals who are missing and endangered, or a terrorist or suspected terrorist entering the country, running around the country or anything…they are cops after all right?

It’s truly sad when marketers, social media sites, banks, gas stations, big box stores, email providers, and criminals have more tools at their disposal about all of us than law enforcement.

And everyone but law enforcement is abusing it.

By the way, the American Civil Liberties Union and those 51 other advocacy groups who ran to the DOJ concerned over facial recognition and cried wolf, have absolutely no proof of any wrongdoing on the part of law enforcement.

While I agree with policing the police, we can’t keep cutting them off at the knee.

Its facial recognition…as seen in the movies and on TV folks, nothing more or less than that, it does not require a ton of oversight.

Besides, marketers are looking at facial recognition tools…it won’t be long before they are using it.

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

@thecrimeshop

 

Denver, Colorado Police in another spy-file situation

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Colorado ACLU questions the Denver Police Department

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The Colorado ACLU is now questioning the Denver, Colorado Police department over its use of Geofeedia software. And in case you were not aware, the Denver Police Department has been using Geofeedia to monitor activities in the city, more specifically what residents are saying on social medial.

Geofeedia allows police to target specific neighborhoods or areas of the city and capture all posts to social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and international social media sites, and can even hone in on keyword searches.

The ACLU seems to feel that the police may be violating a 2003 agreement over how and when the department monitors city residents’ activities so naturally they are requesting to know who is is using it, what search terms they are using, when and why.

You know to make sure the police are following proper protocol when they use it.

According to Mark Silverstein, legal director of the ACLU, “There’s a risk if we know the police department is watching and listening to tweets and posts on certain subjects, people may be afraid to say something for instance, I’m not going to say something about a police shooting because the police might put me in a file. The issue is it has a chilling effect on our First Amendment rights.”

Well Mark, I believe the police are not going to put someone on file that isn’t advocating violence against police. If you are all for police getting shot and killed and support and advocate it, entice people to go through with thoughts or idea’s with regards to harming police, then you deserve to be in a file…

At some point we all need to realize that fine line between what we say and support openly and publicly isn’t always a protected right nor should it be.

The concern the ACLU has concerns a 14 year old issue that Denver had that was once dubbed “spy-files.”

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So the story goes like this, back in 2002, the ACLU sued the Denver Police Department over intelligence files that it kept on its residents.

The lawsuit claimed that the police department spied on people who were exercising their First Amendment rights by attending community meetings and protests even though many of the individuals as it later turned out, never made any specific threats or acted in any way violently so as to cause or inflict harm to others.

That was then and this is now. One of the first things I hear from people who have lived through a mass shooting where the shooter made threats through social media, is why didn’t the police see the posts and stop it. Or is it the job of the public to see them and report them.

Again, it’s a fine and delicate line that we walk on these days, what’s more is that, when posting on social media, yes we all do have a right to freedom of speech but is it really that out of line for police to have the ability to view it openly with or without software?

If you say it in a public forum, it means you want to be heard, you want it seen, you want to be seen by as many people as possible.

It is the same as being on stage. It does not fall under the idea of someone getting off of his or her couch and attending a protest.

Speaking on social media is making the choice to take it public, the police didn’t technically have to pry the details out of someone or send in secret spies to find it out.

What the police shouldn’t do however is keep a file on the individual if they are not leaning towards any radical thinking such as supporting, enticing or suggesting acts of violence against police or anyone for that matter.

Hate speech is hate speech and believe it or not, it sometimes has consequences including unintended ones.

Police should be allowed to see whatever whenever they wish, just not allowed to keep files on people who pose no credible threats.

Part of being an adult is realizing that sometimes we do need to be careful of what we say, where we say it and to whom we are saying it to, social media provides a very large audience, you never know who just might be listening.

We have no legal right to protections under freedom of speech if what we are saying suggests an act which would cause harm to another. Cop or otherwise.

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

@thecrimeshop

DEA wants to conduct warrantless searches

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The United States Drug Enforcement Agency wants the ability to conduct warrantless searches on State run Prescription Medication Database.

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that in 2013 alone 65 million people over the age of 11 have used prescription medication for non-medical reasons. A number that has continued to grow rather than decline.

That added up to more people using prescription meds than who were using cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined.  

The pharmaceutical companies as you can imagine are making money hand over fist as the “need” for prescription medication grows, which in and of itself is pretty concerning.

Naturally, the DEA has reason for concern when they hear about doctors or patients who are fraudulently prescribing or obtaining prescription medications that are classified as an opioid.

49 States here in the USA have legislation authorizing the creation and operation of a PDMP (prescription drug monitoring program).

It’s worth a mention that, 49 States here in the US also have a fully operational PDMP which collects and reports data about what prescription drugs you might be taking. That information is “only” used by “authorized” individuals.

UTAH, which participates in the program passed a law last year that requires investigators obtain a warrant in order to search the database.

The DEA has requested from the State of Utah to have the ability to be able to conduct warrantless searches of its prescription drug database while the ACLU is trying to butt in and tell the DEA that, that would be considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The DEA lawyers have argued that “Fourth Amendment rights are personal and may not be asserted vicariously.”

The DEA thinks that the ACLU should butt out of it’s business and and do it as of yesterday. They contend that the ACLU has no business trying to get itself involved with this request.

The reason the DEA wants to search it makes perfect sense because they only want to search the database for a specific case or… so they say.

The case involves a doctor and potentially patients who may or may not have been involved in some prescription drug scheme where the provider might be prescribing drugs to folks who have some type of involvement with a criminal organization overseas.

Suffice it to say, many law enforcement agencies argue that these databases are helpful when trying to combat prescription drug fraud and that is true. If you can’t track the source then you have no case and must let the offender (s) go without prosecution.

This turns out to be terrible news for a family who may have lost a loved one who somehow obtained prescription meds fraudulently and died as a result or worse, ended up with lifelong issues that resulted in the taking of prescription medications that were fraudulently obtained.

In Utah for instance, because of the law that was passed last year, use of the database has plummeted because of the length of time it takes investigators to obtain a warrant.

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Sleeping on the other side of the bed, hogging all of the covers is the ACLU who is arguing that police use of the data base brings up some serious issues.

Equality Utah, is a gay rights organization who feels that warrantless database searches can violate the privacy of transgender people using hormone replacement therapy drugs because, the DEA would have access to that information if they were allowed to conduct a warrantless search of the database.

A firefighters union in Utah is also concerned with warrantless searches of the database because a couple of years ago, 2 firefighters were accused of and charged with prescription drug fraud after a wide-ranging search of the database.

Those charges were dropped because whoever performed the search made a mistake and that is the very reason that Utah now requires a warrant before the database can be searched.

Around 20 or so other states also require investigators obtain a warrant prior to being allowed to access the PDMP.

At any rate, the ACLU happens to represent both of these groups.

Here in the US people have a thing about law enforcement and our Government having the ability to look at our stuff whenever they want for whatever reason they want.

But the reality is that most agencies if not all agencies do have a protocol that investigators and officers must go through prior to searching a database like the PDMP.

It’s not like most imagine, cop sits at his desk bored and says “what the hell, I’m bored, I think I’ll search the PDMP today and look for something so I can bust someone.”

In the case of the firefighters from Utah who were wrongfully accused of prescription drug fraud, someone dropped the ball but it wasn’t because investigators on a whim searched these guys out. Someone at some point provided them with intel that warranted the search in the first place.

Now did they do a stellar job of investigating? Hands down, I am going to go with a no on that. The firefighters have a right to sue over that.

Sometimes in rare cases warrantless searches are more of a benefit to society than we know or think. They are at times a necessary evil which has nothing to do with right or wrong whichever side of the bed you are on.

As far as law enforcement having access the transgender communities records so they can see who is prescribed hormone replacement therapy?

I am going to go out on a limb here, I don’t believe that the law enforcement community really wants that information, would bother to look for it or even care about it unless…someone were suspected of something having to do with prescribing and or reselling hormone replacement therapy drugs. Which believe or not is pretty lucrative.

We’ll have to wait and see how the case turns out…

In the meantime…

How many of you are going to check and see if your state allows for warrantless searches of the PDMP?

Cristal M Clark

IOS users can find The Crime Shop on Apple News

@thecrimeshop